Where to go on holiday in February
The shortest month of the year doesn’t leave much room for error, so it’s more important than usual to make sure you’re booking the right trip. The southern hemisphere is still in the swing of summer, but there are other options closer to home that have a lot to offer.
Best for Skiing
In February, ski slopes across Europe are almost guaranteed to be blanketed in snow. The last thing you want to find on your ski holiday is a mud bath and a handful of grumpy tourists. Rest assured, although February is peak season, it’s worth it for the winter wonderland that awaits you.
France is just a hop, skip and jump from home and the slopes are magical in February. Austria is a less obvious choice for UK travellers, but has some of the best slopes on offer (to find out more about skiing in Austria, click here).
What better way to spend Valentine's Day than snuggling around a fire with your loved one, clutching a glass of vin chaud?
If you can handle a little bit of bustle, a European ski holiday is the perfect break, especially if you’ve got kids to keep entertained.
Best for Winter Sun
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Of course, February is a great time to head south in pursuit of the sunshine. In the Yucatan, hurricane season has blown over, and the weather is hot and dry.
Peak season is around Christmas and New Year, so book your trip for February to skip the crowds. You’ll also find accommodation and flights a little more affordable. The Caribbean climate is an obvious draw, but the Yucatan attracts visitors for reasons other than its beaches. The rich history will keep you occupied for days, from the ancient Mayan ruins to the colonial architecture. It’s also a bustling cultural landscape, with dance, art and museums to experience.
The Yucatan is also a feast for the eyes: there are mangroves and jungles of iridescent green, turquoise waters fringed by beautiful reefs, and underground waterways with deep blue pools.
Nowhere else in Mexico offers such a diversity of experience, so make sure you plan your trip carefully to fit it all in!
Lanzarote has long been a favourite for UK tourists, and with good reason. Most accommodation options have a homely, eco-friendly sort of feel, but you’ll find countless boutique hotels, chic eateries and stylish bars.
The Canary Islands are an ever-popular destination for Brits, being only a 4-hour flight away. February isn’t the best weather, but it’s still good for swimming and sunbathing. You’d be hard pressed to find more idyllic winter weather in the northern hemisphere.
The island itself is incredible. In fact, the geology of Lanzarote has become its most popular tourist attraction. With over 300 volcanic cones, wrinkled black lava fields, sandy beaches, and the intriguing art and architecture of the late visionary, César Manrique, there’s plenty to see.
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Here’s another northern hemisphere destination that’ll help you forget that it’s winter. February is Cyprus’s coldest month, but take that with a pinch of salt. Temperatures still get up to the 20s (Celsius) and there’s only the occasional rainy day. It’s also time for the Almond trees to bloom, bringing a splash of delicate pink to the landscape.
Although the weather is mild near the coast, the Troodos mountain range is actually in prime skiing condition in February. That’s right: a ski holiday and beach holiday rolled into one!
Exquisite beaches are inviting when the sun is out, while ancient ruins, galleries, mosques and museums beckon on the odd chilly or rainy day. Cypriot food is a star of the island in its own right. The Turkish, Greek and Middle-Eastern influences come together on colourful platters filled with bold flavours.
Whether you’re after quiet beaches, quaint harbour towns, food and wine on sunny terraces, or even snow-covered mountains, Cyprus in February has it all.
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Costa Rica may not have the romantic reputation of Venice, Paris or even New York, but trust us, this is a great place to spend the month of love. Costa Ricans refer to their loved ones as “media naranja”, or “half an orange”, which is about as sweet as it gets. The country also ranks number one on the “Happy Planet Index”.
Over 25% of the land is dedicated to conservation, and the wildlife is astonishing. Costa Rica also has some of the best scuba diving in the world.
February is the perfect time to visit. It’s still the dry season, and average temperatures are around 28°C. There are 10-11 hours of sunshine to enjoy every day. It’s also the end of peak season, so the crowds have thinned out and the prices have fallen.
Best for a City Break
Prague is magical at this time of year. There’s something about the sight of beautiful architecture dusted in powdery snow to take the edge off the chill. It’s one of the coldest months of the year, so you’ll be able to explore the authentic city without the jostling crowds. The hotels are quiet and the flights to Prague are cheap, so you could even wait for a snowy spell and book a last-minute trip without breaking the bank.
February is also when Prague comes alive with festivals. There’s the annual Prague Carnival, which takes over the city with Baroque-style events. There are over-the-top feasts and locals take to the streets donning colourful masks and costumes.
If the cold does make it’s way to your bones, stop in at a bar for a Becherovka. It’s a local liquor, golden in colour and full of herbal aromatics. Knock back one or two of those and you’ll warm up in no time.
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In February, the oppressive heat and humidity of the summer months give way to much milder, drier weather. If you’re used to colder weather, you may find yourself baffled by the woolly hats and thick puffy jackets everyone seems to be wearing. In Hong Kong, it’s very fashionable to overdress in winter, so it often looks like the locals are expecting a snowstorm.
Of course, Chinese New Year is the main attraction in February. There’s the New Year’s Day parade, featuring elaborate floats, marching bands, troupes of acrobats and dancers, and the famous lion and dragon dances. The city is a cacophony of gongs, fireworks, and shouts of jubilation, lasting 15 days.
Many shops close for part of New Year, and if you’re visiting for the shopping and visiting popular attractions, another time of year might be better suited. Book early, because Chinese New Year is a very popular event.
Venice in February is cold, but it makes up for it in many ways. The Venice Carnival is an extravaganza of costumes, masks, performances, and exclusive parties. Even days of rain can’t put a damper on the festivities.
Without the crowds (well, less of them at least), the cathedrals and basilica are almost eerie in their quietness. You’ll also more easily find tickets to the opera or classical performances.
Make sure you warm up with some of the syrupy-thick hot chocolate served out of shop fronts in small cups.
Here's how we'd spend 48 hours in Venice
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Other Destinations to Consider
Rio: February is the busiest time of the year, and it’s also the warmest. The city comes alive with the famous Rio Carnival.
New Orleans: In February the weather is comfortably cool, and Mardi Gras is in full swing. Make sure you book long in advance!
St Lucia: The weather in February is mild, and not too rainy.
Oman: A great location for winter sun, without the crowds you’d find in other nearby destinations.
Bahamas: The Caribbean is always a great choice for a sunny beach break, and the Bahamas promises beach weather with swaying palms.